Chennai Express has broken yet another record. The Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone romantic-action-comedy has surpassed Ek Tha Tiger's first week domestic collections with Rs 156.7 crore (gross collection). This is nearly Rs 18 crore more than Salmna Khan's spy-romance collected in one week of its release last year. The movie has raked in healthy box office collections overseas as well at Rs 72 crores in nine days.
Chennai Express' success however has not been carried on at the box office by Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd's (BMPL) Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara (OUATIMD). The Akshay Kumar-Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha starrer opened on 15 August in 1700 screens with collections if Rs 14.2 crores, according to a statement provided by the production house. While the national holiday benefited the gangster movie sequel, Friday occupancy saw a massive dip at just 40 percent as compared to nearly 90 per cent occupancy on opening day. This despite the fact that OUATIMD was present across nearly 2700 screens from Friday.
Chennai Express on the other hand has not seen any significant decrease in screens or shows. Sources reveal that at most, there has been a 15 per cent reduction in both so on the whole, the movie continues to have at least three shows a day across approximately 3600 screens on an average.
Independent distributor and trade analyst Suniel Wadhwa says, Chennai express was not affected by any south films in south India so it got huge advantage in terms of number of screens release. This benefit may not be enjoyed by OUTIMD. Anticipation of the film among audience was that it is not a definite or must watch film since appeal is limited as the genre doesn't goes with youth audience." With the word of mouth being feeble, the film's prospects now look bleak.
The movie registered collections of Rs 9 crore on Friday while Chennai Express collected approximately Rs 6.5 crore on 16 August.
Even the weekend may not be able to salvage the movie according to some quarters of the industry. Independent exhibitor and trade analyst Shaaminder Malik says, “The drop in occupancy and collections that the movie has seen has been dismal. Where on one hand people were clambering to watch the film on Thursday, Friday was just 40 per cent occupancy and today is no better, though the evening shows have seen more footfalls, but its not very encouraging.”
The only hope left for the movie is the mid-week restricted holiday of Rakshabandhan.
According to industry sources, the cost of production of the movie is nearly Rs 90 crore which includes Rs 70 crores in production and nearly Rs 20 crore in print and advertising. If the collections do not pick up over the weekend substantially, the production house may find it difficult to make profit. The satellite rights of the movie have been sold to Multi Screen Media (MSM), the company that runs Sony Entertainment Television and Set Max, for an estimated Rs 27 to 30 crore.
If industry insider are to be believed, the movie is seeing a grim week ahead which may actually benefit Chennai Express further consider the latter has more star attraction and has managed to pique the interest of cinema goers in general with its record breaking run. Add to this the fact that next week sees the release of John Abraham and Nargis Fakri starrer Madras Cafe based on the Rajiv Gandhi assassination which doesn’t not have a mass appeal, and Chennai Express may actually see a healthy 3rd week run as well.